George Mac Mustangs shut out in football final
The fourth time wasn’t the charm for the George McDougall Mustangs.
The team fell short in its bid for a Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) Tier II football title, losing 27-0 to the Springbank Phoenix, which won it’s third championship in as many years, Oct. 26.
After the two teams battled to close finishes in the past two finals, being shutout by one of George Mac’s biggest and most competitive rivals was a surprise for Mustangs Head Coach Brent Legault and the players.
“It wasn’t what we expected by any stretch of the imagination,” he said. “I definitely thought we’d come out a little stronger.”
It isn’t Canadian football if a team isn’t up against Mother Nature and a slippery field presented problems for both teams. The Phoenix turned to its passing game to put points on the board. Kevin Natenstadt had two touchdown, while Adel Boussenane and James Berglund each added a single tally.
George Mac struggled to find any traction in the icy conditions and while it came close several times, it wasn’t able to drive the ball across the line.
“With a game designed around explosive power, not getting any traction made a difference,” Legault said. “The reality is that both teams had to play in those conditions. I don’t think either team was spared by Mother Nature, but it was a little discouraging. At the same time, you learn from your losses.”
After advancing to the finals four years in a row and bringing home silver each time, it’s back to the drawing board for the Mustangs who will returning next season. For the seniors, the final was their last game in a Mustangs uniform, but Legault said they still have a lot to be proud of.
“They never gave up,” he said. “They were taking big hits, but they kept getting back up and getting back in the game. Our senior crew showed incredible heart and fortitude. They did a great job over the season and they set the tone for the junior program.”
For Springbank, the three-peat is complete. After last year’s final came down to triple overtime, Phoenix Head Coach Tony Lucas was relieved that this year’s team was able to secure the win long before the final whistle blew.
“It’s great,” he said. “The players were very excited and this time, it wasn’t close, which was nice. We had fans asking us not to make it close after the game against Bert Church (where Springbank scored two touchdowns in the last minute of the game after trailing 6-0). We played a much better game and it didn’t come down to the last second.”
Having played all season and practiced on its home field, the Phoenix were able to adjust to the weather and field conditions and a passing game that had served them well all season came up big for them once more.
“We weren’t able to run the ball,” said Lucas. “The conditions were difficult for the offensive linemen to get any leverage and it lent itself to passing. George Mac moved the ball, but they had trouble getting pressure on our quarterback. He had time to choose a receiver. Defensively, we executed much better than the week before.”
Like George Mac, Springbank will lose some key players to graduation, including Natenstedt, Will Nieuwenburg and Brody Zemlak, among others.
However, their season isn’t quite finished, as the Phoenix will play Foothills Composite from the Okotoks in the regional qualifiers. The date and time for the game have not yet been finalized.
The RVSA season is set to wrap up Nov. 3 as the Bert Church Chargers take on the Chestermere Cowboys for the bronze medal. It’s a rematch of last year’s third place final, which Chestermere won 15-12. Game time is 6 p.m. in Chestermere.